Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Not Me, It's You

Back in the days of yore before I got sick I was a big bad manager in department store cosmetics. It was a tough job, balancing the joy of pleasing both my bosses and employees, whose interests were usually not aligned. And quite frankly working with the general public on a service basis, while frequently entertaining, was no picnic either. One of my greatest challenges lay in my ability to boost the morale of my troops and spur productivity without badgering them to meet sales goals. A proactive and positive "I can conquer anything" attitude worked best. Even if I had to fake it.

Sadly time and time again my employees would come to me in tears. A meanie just yelled at them, or was degrading or condescending in some other way. Rude, uptight or miserable, they would hurl insults, stomp their foot as smoke poured out their ears or mimic a pressure release valve with angry puffs of air. It can be quite upsetting when someone treats you that way, especially so when for the sake of job security you can't tell them to stick it where the sun don't shine. So we had to learn how to not take these assaults so personally. Through much trial and error I discovered the way I was treated had very little to do with me. It had a lot more to do with the customer. If they were generally mean, they were mean to me. If they went through life yelling, then they yelled at me. If they got their way through aggressive rude behavior, they were aggressive and rude to me. So with logic overriding emotion I set out to share this perspective with my fellows in the hopes they too could stop taking ugly behavior personally. 

So yesterday as I am listening to the umpteenth tale of how friends, family or doctors just don't believe a person with Fibromyalgia is really sick, it smacked me across the face. Perhaps this has a lot more to do with them than it does us? Think about this here. Sick is inconvenient. It creates more work for the healthy when we can't do what we once did. Especially sick which never goes away. A doctor with a God complex who can't fix us may feel justified in blaming the patient or telling us we are nuts as a way to compensate for their lack of success. A boss who needs the overly-productive type-A person we once were may fail to show compassion or empathy because yet again, they depend on us but that person is no more. If you were daycare for your grandchildren and no longer can be, your kids may be mighty pissed off at the wrench this has thrown in their path. Think about the relationships in your life that hassle you the most. Those who spend all their time convincing themselves the problem is you, not your disease. Are they happy and at peace with themselves? Are they stretched too thin? Are they so self-absorbed to never even try to understand what life is like for you? It is much easier to judge than walk a mile in someone else's shoes. We are given a tall order my friends, surviving a very real illness still a mystery to medical science. It is not made any easier by those we need desperately to believe us who simply don't. But just for a moment try and allow intellect to override feelings, and assess the situation objectively. And then ask yourself to consider the source.

Thanks for joining,


  1. A world of truth in this post. I'm printing it out to remind me ...

  2. BRAVO Leah,
    This just happened to me a few weeks ago. My therapist told me having to drive and take care of my 80yr old narcissistic mother was toxic and it was going to kill me if I didn't stop.

    I had tried again and again to get my two brothers to help out. One of them said " I work for a living, all you do is sit on your ass all day".
    So I continued, as the only daughter, to do ALL the work and take ALL the stress...until I got permission from my therapist to stop. And I stopped cold turkey. Well, my brother started getting all the calls and requests for help. Do you know what he did? He sent me a very ugly, mean email saying my only problem was mental and I had convinced all the drs I was sick. Even Social security disability and my own private insurance disability!

    YOU ARE RIGHT. He was mad, because now HE had to help. I've stuck by my guns and have half the stress and pain I had before. And I'm still waiting (ha) for an apology from my brother.